Major Loot

In 2014, Hobby Lobby purchased a tablet containing an excerpt from the Epic of Gilgamesh, perhaps the oldest epic work of literature in Western Civilization.  The tablet is 3500-years old, and Hobby Lobby won the tablet in a Christie’s auction, paying $1.6 million for it.  Hobby Lobby displayed the tablet in its Museum of the Bible, which houses a number of rare and ancient artifacts.

Now, Hobby Lobby has forfeited the tablet to the US Department of Justice due to it shady provenance.  It seems that the original seller falsified a letter of provenance to show that the tablet had entered the United States before laws against importing rare artifacts were enacted.

To make matters worse, Christie’s apparently knew that the letter was questionable, but withheld that information.

Unfortunately, that means Hobby Lobby took one on the chin financially.  I’m not sure what the fate of the original smuggler is, but I imagine he’s long gone and living the sweet life.

The bigger question, though, is what should be done with such artifacts?  Current US policy seems to be to return them to their country of origin.  While that might seem to the be simplest policy, is it really best for the preservation of the artifacts—and our cultural heritage?

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Lazy Sunday CXX: Animals, Part II

For some reason that even I can’t even explain, I have suddenly become a big squish when it comes to animals.  For years I just didn’t care about them all that much:  sure, they’re sometimes good companions, but they’re kind of annoying and expensive—like kids, but they can’t grow up to take care of you when you’re inching towards the grave in a senile fog.

Now—inexplicably!—I’ve been torturing myself by looking at animals online at my county’s animal shelter (my lizard hindbrain wants to adopt this guy, but my pragmatic rationality forbids it).  Am I becoming the male equivalent of a thirty-three-year old single white female, trying to fill the void of a childless existent with a canine substitute?

I don’t think so.  I suspect this sudden onset of Francis of Assisi-esque animal loving is because I’ve blessed to spend the last year around really good dogs.  Who wouldn’t want a buddy to loaf around with, and to take on long walks?

That has apparently translated to caring for our slimier friends of the more aquatic variety, too.  I did, after all, make an attempt at building a makeshift frog pond for all the croakers hanging around my house.

That said, this 120th edition of Lazy Sunday is going to the dogs—and whales, pigeons, and frogs:

  • Hard to Swallow” – The story of man spit from the mouth of a humpback whale, which I then relate (predictably) to the remarkable—and, seriously weird—story of Jonah.
  • Release the Pigeons” – 5000—maybe more!—British racing pigeons disappeared during a recent race.  I’m not sure what is the bigger mystery:  how the pigeons disappeared, or how racing pigeons become a niche sport in Great Britain.
  • Adventures in Gardening: Building a Frog Pond” – This post details how I played around in the mud in my garden, and built my first attempt at Frogtopia.  It includes lots of pictures, and even a picture of a German shepherd and me playing with a toad.

That’s it for this extra-fluffy edition of Lazy SundayFind yourself a shelter pet!

Oh—and Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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Release the Pigeons

Here’s a weird bit of animal news for you:  around 5000 of 9000 carrier pigeons engaged in pigeon racing disappeared.  The pigeons were part of an obscure sport that races homing pigeons, and it’s unclear why over half of the birds never returned home.

Carrier and homing pigeons aren’t as necessary today as they were even one hundred years ago, what with improvements in communication technology.  When everyone is carrying around a Star Trek communicator with more computing power than the Apollo spacecrafts, the need to maintain a rookery of sky-rats is quite diminished.

That said, the birds are quite remarkable.  Carrier pigeons have saved thousands of lives in various conflicts around the world.  The piece in The Western Journal about the missing pigeons discusses the heroics of Cher Ami, a pigeon that saved the 77th Infantry Division’s “lost battalion” in the First World War “by delivering 12 messages and returning to his roost despite being shot in the leg”  The brave bird died from his injuries in 1919, but “was awarded the Croix de Guerre by France.”

Survivalists and homesteaders might take a particular interest in homing pigeons:  while they’re not particularly useful now, they could be quite useful in the event of a major failure of the power grid, or should the Internet and various cellular services go down.

But what of the missing birds?

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Monday Morning Movie Review: The Ghost Writer (2010)

Roman Polanksi is a sexual weirdo and a fugitive from justice, but, dang, he makes good movies.  A couple of weekends back I stumbled upon The Ghost Writer (2010) on Hulu, more evidence that the streaming service is upping its game.

The Ghost Writer is a product of the Bush Era, when Hollywood was obsessed with Bush Derangement Syndrome—a psychological condition akin to Trump Derangement Syndrome, but which now seems quaint and cute by comparison.  The plot involves a ghostwriter (Ewan McGregor) hired to punch-up the boring, windy memoirs of a Tony Blair-esque former British Prime Minister.  The former PM is facing prosecution for war crimes for his alleged role in illegally torturing terrorists during the War on Terror, and while he is considered a “world-historical” figure, his pro-war stance while PM has made him deeply unpopular.

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Walkin’

Yesterday morning, longtime Nebraska Energy Observer contributor Audre Myers shared a charming post, “Walking …“—a reflection of the late 1960s and Woodstock.  Regular commenter Scoop posted an achingly nostalgic response that sums up the significance of Woodstock to that cohort of early Boomers—it was the last incandescent burst of rock ‘n’ roll’s triumph before petering out in the 1970s (which, I would argue, is when hard rock got good).

The tug of nostalgia is a strong one.  I’m only thirty-five, and I already feel it from time to time.  Indeed, I’ve always been a sucker for nostalgia, which a psychologist might argue is one of the reasons I studied history.  Perhaps.  I also just enjoy learning trivia.

Regardless, Audre’s post caught my attention because I have been contemplating the literal, physical act of walking lately (although I often take metaphorical strolls down memory lane, too).  I’ve put on a bit of weight in The Age of The Virus, so I’ve taken up walking as a way to complement a regimen of calorie counting (which is more of a loose, back-of-the-envelope calorie guesstimate each day).

I’m trying to get in around two miles of focused walking a day, mostly around Lamar.  Although work commitments don’t always make that possible, I do find that simply going about my work results in around two miles of walking in aggregate.  I’m curious to see what my step totals will be once the school year resumes, and I’m dashing about between classes, pacing the rows of students, and striding across the boards as I teach.

I’m not a runner, by any means.  My older brother loves to run, and has the physique to show for it.  More power to him, but I know myself well enough to know it’s not something I want to do.  Runners swear oaths to running’s efficacy and delights, but gasping for breath in 100-degree weather with maximum humidity doesn’t appeal to me.  Walking at a brisk clip in that weather, though, is at least bearable—once I’ve embraced the stickiness and the sweat, I can go for a couple of miles easily, and sometimes three or four.

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My Musical Philosophy in Song: “Delilah”

On Sunday (my first day back playing piano in church!—everyone else was in their cars listening over a short-range broadcast)—I posted a video to my Facebook artist page of Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson singing Tom Jones’s 1968 classic “Delilah”:

I’ve received a handful queries about my statement that “this video sums up my entire musical philosophy.”  Naturally, there’s a bit of cheek in that statement.  My short answer is similar to the jazz musician’s (Louis Armstrong? Dizzy Gillespie?) when a lady asked him how to swing:  “if you have to ask, you’ll never know.”  The video should speak for itself:

But I began digging into this video a bit more.  What is this bizarre game show?  When was it aired?  How did Bruce Dickinson end up singing “Delilah”?  It reminds me another video that “sums up my entire musical philosophy”—Jack Black’s appearance on American Idol singing Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose”:

Fortunately, there are some scant details out there.  The show was Last Chance Lotter with Patrick Kielty, an Irish game show that ran for ten episodes in 1997.  The gimmick was that the show took losers from other game shows, gave them a lottery ticket, and anyone who had a ticket worth ten pounds or more could compete in the main game.  Some of the money won would go into a pot for one random audience member to win.

I haven’t quite worked out how the musical numbers figured in, but the musical guest would essentially sing a song to add even more cash to the pot by spinning a wheel (that was transparently rigged—the audience knew the wheel was controlled, from what I can gather).  That’s why Bruce Dickinson was on the show, and his performance of “Delilah” is one of the most spectacular musical renditions I’ve ever heard:  mariachi horns, bouncing bassists, leopard-print suits, and Dickinson’s soaring vocals.

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The Spectator Turns 10,000

The British libertarian magazine The Spectator reached its 10,000th issue.  It is the only magazine ever to reach this milestone.  It began life as a newspaper in July 1828, becoming a magazine “more than 100 years” later, although it was apparently always a weekly.

Throughout its history, The Spectator took radical positions for the times.  They supported the expansion of the franchise in Britain in 1832, and supported the Union in the American Civil War at a time when many Britons were concerned about the impact of cotton shortages on the British textile industry than they were about slavery (correctly or not, The Spectator cast the American Civil War in moral terms).

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Lazy Sunday XLVII: Winning

Need a soundtrack to go with all the winning conservatives are enjoying under President Trump and Prime Minister Johnson?  Download Contest Winner – EP for just a few bucks, or download the legendary title track.

As I wrote yesterday, it’s been a good week for populism and national sovereignty.  It’s easy to get caught up in the myriad defeats on our side, and it’s frustrating that we seem to rally only at the last possible moment to prevent total catastrophe, but it’s worthwhile to look back at our victories from time to time.

To that end, this edition of Lazy Sunday is dedicated to looking back at some conservative victories.  One of the pieces looks back at our greatest Secretary of State, who although was a part of the totalizing New England faction that dominates progressive thought today, also helped created our national borders with his diplomatic finesse.

  • Independence Day” – This post was a brief celebration of Great Britain’s final exit from the blight that is the European Union.  Hip, hip, hooray!
  • Trump Stands for Us” – This piece linked to an essay from my blogger buddy photog, “The Unique Value of the Trump Presidency“; both photog’s original and my commentary are worth reading.  There’s a popular meme that shows President Trump sitting sternly, pointing directly at the viewer, with a caption that reads something along the lines of, “They’re not after me, they’re after YOU; I’m just in the way.”  Boy, does that speak volumes.  As photog points out, President Trump truly does stand with us, the American people.  In part, he does that simply by not despising us the way our elites do.
  • Mueller Probe Completed, Trump Vindicated” – Before the Ukraine impeachment hoax, there was the Russian collusion hoax.  How soon we forget.  While Mueller declined to write in his report that Trump could be fully vindicated, he also couldn’t make a case for Russian collusion.  Trump did nothing wrong!  After the Senate acquits GEOTUS this week, I wonder what scary Slavic country they’ll pick next.  Maybe they’ll allege that President Trump is in league with Viktor Orban in Hungary?  That would make me support him even more!
  • #MAGAWeek2018 – John Quincy Adams” – A bit of an outlier here, but I wrote a fairly lengthy rundown of John Quincy Adams—probably our best Secretary of State, and one of our worst presidents—back in summer 2018 as part of #MAGAWeek2018.  JQA and his New England Puritan ilk can probably be faulted for many of the one-size-fits-all solutions progressives plague us with today (although he would have recoiled at what progressives want), but he was a genius in terms of foreign policy, and he was a sincere nationalist, in the best sense of that amorphous term:  he wanted to make American great, physically and economically.  It’s a worthwhile read to get some more insights into a largely forgotten historical figure.

That’s it for today!  Let’s keep winning in 2020, and KEEP AMERICA GREAT!

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Independence Day

The day has finally come—after three-and-a-half years, Great Britain is finally leaving the European Union.  The British people are regaining their sovereignty and will begin their way back to enjoying their traditional English liberties.

The European Union is an overweaning, elitist, supranational tyranny.  It is a progressive dream, which is why the Leftists are melting down over Brexit, and attempted to thwart it for so many years.  Progressives today—just like progressives in the early twentieth century—are gaga for technocratic rule and elitist dominance.

It’s not about “democracy”; if it was, they would have accepted the outcome of the 2016 referendum.  Democracy only matters to progressives when it advances their ends.  That’s why progressives hold elections and referendums—repeatedly, if necessary—until they get the outcomes they want—and then the matter is settled forever.  If that doesn’t work, courts or the bureaucracy will effectively veto the voters’ “incorrect” choices.

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